Former EA CEO John Riccitello has spoken up about microtransactions in video games, saying what while those who avoid implementing monitization early on in the creative process are some of the “most beautiful and pure, brilliant people,” they are also “some of the biggest f****** idiots.”
Riccitello is now the CEO of Unity Technologies and he spoke to PocketGamer.Biz about this topic following the announcement of Unity and ironSource’s upcoming merger. When asked about the pushback that some developers have given regarding implementing monetization early on in developing a game, Riccitello did not hold back.
“Ferrari and some of the other high-end car manufacturers still use clay and carving knives,” Riccitello said. “It’s a very small portion of the gaming industry that works that way, and some of these people are my favourite people in the world to fight with – they’re the most beautiful and pure, brilliant people. They’re also some of the biggest f****** idiots.
“I’ve been in the gaming industry longer than most anybody – getting to the grey hair and all that. It used to be the case that developers would throw their game over the wall to the publicist and sales force with literally no interaction beforehand. That model is baked into the philosophy of a lot of artforms and medium, and it’s one I am deeply respectful of; I know their dedication and care.
“But this industry divides people between those who still hold to that philosophy and those who massively embrace how to figure out what makes a successful product. And I don’t know a successful artist anywhere that doesn’t care about what their player thinks. This is where this cycle of feedback comes back, and they can choose to ignore it. But to choose to not know it at all is not a great call.
“I’ve seen great games fail because they tuned their compulsion loop to two minutes when it should have been an hour. Sometimes, you wouldn’t even notice the product difference between a massive success and tremendous fail, but for this tuning and what it does to the attrition rate. There isn’t a developer on the planet that wouldn’t want that knowledge.”
Monetization indicators being a focus early on is very important to Unity as it has worked to say it has “democratized creation.” This mission is part of the reason why Unity believes there is a “beauty in tools that let people find out that this is how they want to make their livelihood.”
“Looking at ironSource, they came with the same ideas,” Unity Create senior vice president and general manager Marc Whitten said. “Making feedback and publishing more transparent, as opposed to locked in a black box of marketing people. Now creators can look at minute information about monetisation and feedback in the same way they would look at load times or where they need to optimise their C# code.”
Microtransactions have been and will continue to be a hot topic for the games industry, and there has been a constant battle between developers/publishers and customers as to what the right way to go about it is. EA, in particular, has been in the microtransaction hot seat in the past, and one of the most notable incidents was related to Star Wars: Battlefront 2.
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